Posted on 2010-07-24
Fitzwilliam Darcy appeared a most awful object as he lounged awkwardly on a sofa at his own house of a Sunday evening. He had nothing to do and, even though he had no interest in Alan Bennett (no relation; he'd asked) seemingly interviewing himself on BBC 4, was too bored to switch channels. He impatiently waited for his lovely wife of eight years to finish whatever was left to do in the kitchen and join him to relieve the tedium of this evening in the way only she could.
As if perfectly rehearsed, Elizabeth entered on cue, showing a wide smile. Instantly alert, he returned her grin and asked, "Everything well, darling?"
"Everything. Kids are asleep. Dishwasher is churning. And I just logged off, email is up-to-date, and everything."
Just when events on the sofa were progressing well beyond a nice marital cuddle, Darcy's phone rang and then vibrated vigourously. The device happened to be situated in a fortunate place between them at the time so at first the interruption was greeted by dual "mmmmm"s. Darcy, however, soon remembered that he had all inbound contacts blocked except for three. It could be Georgiana, or Charles, at any rate if the call was coming through it must be important.
"Sorry, love, I'd better take this." He checked the screen and blinked at the notification message.
"Charles?" Liz asked with a small sigh.
"Uh, erm, you know he and I like to review and to set things up for the coming week. Saves time on Monday. I'll check this out from my study. I won't be long, I promise. Don't go away…" He left after a parting kiss and a flash of dimples.
How could he have forgot? Sunday. Of course! Sunday was the day he indulged his secret addiction, his love-hate relationship with fan fiction. Sunday was the day "booklust" posted updates to "Remember" at fan fiction writers' site: Perform To Strangers. This saga had already reached 415 chapters. The reminder he had just received by phone meant chapter 416 awaited. He was by turns irritated ashamed and disgusted by the allure it held for him. But he had been drawn in, had been bewitched at some point, though he could not fix on the hour and was in the middle before he knew that he had begun.
How had he succumbed to a tale about a twit named George Knightley who, even though married for twelve years, was consistently rendered impotent by his memories of dandling his wife on his knee when she was an infant and he in his late teens?
With an exhale of resignation, he powered on his laptop and keyed the multiple passwords required to transfer through the triple encoded security locks that he had installed. At the Perform To Strangers login page, he entered his id: wasteofanevening and password: iheartliz.
As he read chapter 416 he was once more reminded why he had been captivated. The writing was lively and playful, with a mixture of sweetness and archness that could never affront. He had to admit to the very great pleasure which fine lines in the space of a pretty well-written story can bestow. But that Knightley! He couldn't stop himself from exclaiming aloud, "Good God, what a git!". Still, he secretly cheered him on, clandestinely crossed his fingers, hoping that maybe just maybe the poor bastard could finally consummate his marriage. There was some entertainment to be had in side scenes of mild bland couplings at Abbey-Mill-Farm, and the expected droll comments on Augusta Elton garbed in orange. Sadly, though, chapter 416 ended exactly as the previous 415 had, with more hanging than just cliffs.
He left his usual scathing and insightful comments at the review thread, pointing out to the author that if a happy (for that poor bastard Knightley anyway) resolution was not reached soon, little Henry would have Donwell after all.
With another Sunday update read and reviewed, Darcy relinquished his secret life, logged out, and went in search of his wife.
Elizabeth had waited only a minute or two after her husband exited. Fitzwilliam's Sunday sessions in his study usually lasted no more than an hour. She decided, as she often did on those days, to use the interval to make a start on her own week. On a tip-toed foray down the hall past the study door, she heard "Good God, what a git!". She assumed the exclamation must refer to the new corporate lawyer, William Collins, in whose credentials they had been most unhappily deceived. Liz continued on to the kitchen where she settled at the alcove desk and powered on her laptop.
After keying through the double layer of encoded security locks she had installed, the computer was online and ready. Elizabeth extracted a notebook from her bag and paged to the latest entry, written in the cipher she and Jane had devised when teens.
Once the web browser was started, Liz glanced at the screen to verify that the designated home page had appeared. She logged her id: booklust and password: iheartfitz, then transferred to the "Build a Draft" section of performtostrangers.net.
Referring to the coded notes, she began transcribing.
Chapter 417.The End
"Oh, George! No, not again!" cried Emma. Her true hazel eyes clouded by frustration disappointment and tears, she wondered if her biological clock would ever be wound. …